A state of misconceptions…

I have a  friend whose son is 15-16 years old. He is extremely lonely, depressed and suicidal. He finds it extremely difficult to socialize with people. His parents were more than concerned about him because on several occasions they ended of finding blade marks on his wrists. After trying everything, right from counselling to seeing a hakeem, they finally decided to consult a doctor.

The doctor performed a comprehensive physical examination and listened to all the symptoms she had shown and referred them to a psychologist. When the doctor told them there might be a psychological problem the parents quickly went into a state of denial and got angry. ” Our daughter doesn’t need a psychologist. Psychologists are for mad people”.

This is unfortunately the mindset of a majority of people in India when they hear about mental illness. People are willing to recognize cancer, Tuberculosis and diabetes , but when one tries to talk about mental illness, the topic is immediately brushed under the carpet. Recently, I was with a group of colleagues, a majority of whom are fathers. One of them  mentioned about a colleague who happens to be suffering from some kind of a psychological disordher. My colleagues appeared unimpressed and appeared extremely judgmental. I could hear one of them saying ” Pagalon ka ilaaj karne wala bhi pagal  hi hota hai” (The one who treats people with mental disorders happens to be insane.)

Numerous types of mental illnesses and depressions are recognized all over the world and many different kinds of treatments are available as well. There have been instances of patients suffering from mental illness have attempted suicide in a fit of frustration and rage because they aren’t provided with proper proper medical help.

The kind of pressures and tensions we face in our day-to-day life are tremendous. Ours has become a society of walking zombies and monsters. Leave alone the working classes, even children haven’t been spared. Parents want their children to be “super-kids”. Getting good grades is certainly not enough, one has to be good in co-curricular activities as well. It’s really a cause of concern that instead of providing their children with moral support, a lot of parents keep. As a consequence on burdening their children with unreal expectations and as a consequence, a lot of children end up succumbing to the pressure put on them by their parents and peers and turn to drugs and other psychotropic substances for relief.

Well, I just don’t understand why on earth are we living in stone- age when it comes to recognizing mental disorders and illnesses? Furthermore, why is psychology not considered to be a ‘real’ qualification and a ‘real’ degree?  A friend of mine told me about her father’s reaction when she told him that she wants to take-up psychology as a subject  from the Kamala Nehru College for Women, University of Delhi. Her father replied “( Kya tum Pagalon ki doctor bano gi?) ” Do you want to treat mad people?”

We really need people to understand the need for more psychologists. Psychology allows people to understand the functioning of the mind in a better way and why people react in certain ways. Having this understanding allows mental illness to be better diagnosed and managed. Psychology also helps in managing relationships and helps those with depression and/or anxiety and promotes an overall healthier state of mind.

A healthier mind leads us to a healthier body. So, if we can go and see an ENT specialist if we’re suffering from cold then, I believe, we can also go and consult a psychologist if we’re feeling depressed or anxious.



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